What is a good gun Caliber to start out with?


July 29, 2008, 02:12 PM
What is a good caliber to start out with? A good friend of mine is wanting to buy her first gun this weekend. shes wanting to buy a .45. I was told when i bought my first gun that i should start of with a 9mm and work my way up. Do you think this is good advices for my friend?

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July 29, 2008, 02:33 PM
Try cornered cat . com and take her to a range that rents guns. If she developes bad habits now it will be harder to unlearn them. Start slow usually with a .22 lr.

July 29, 2008, 02:38 PM
Whatever caliber they can handle.

I started out with .40S&W and been in love with that caliber.

Most hate it, but why be normal?

July 29, 2008, 02:38 PM
She might be fine with a .45, she might not.

+1 on taking her to rent guns and try some out.

Dr.Mall Ninja
July 29, 2008, 02:39 PM
i just bought my frist handgun and it was a 1911, i wish i would have practiced with a 22lr more first

July 29, 2008, 02:41 PM
i wish i would have practiced with a 22lr more first

EXACTLY, that's why I ALWAYS recommend first timers to take a course and try out different guns to fit them.

July 29, 2008, 02:41 PM
I second the idea of going to rent range guns to see what she likes. I know very smallish girls who love a .45, and others think 9mm kicks too much.

July 29, 2008, 02:46 PM
I started my daughter (and sons) on .22 rifles. Some folks truly are sensitive to recoil, blast, etc. My daughter now enjoys her S&W, M&P 9 Compact but still thinks my Model 66 revolver, with .38 +Ps, "kicks too much." So it goes.

Daughter-in-law, initiated with .22 rifle and pistol, turned into a monster when provided with a .38 Special, 6-inch barrel, S&W Model 14 revolver. That's now "her" gun. My son gets growled at if he tries to shoot it. Thoroughly comfortable with the .38, she thinks it will take a few more months to become used to son's .45 ACP, 1911.

Start with a .22. If enthusiasm endures, you can always add to the battery or "trade up".

July 29, 2008, 02:47 PM
+1 on the .22.

I found my wife made the transition from my .22 to my .38 & later to my .357 Mag. easily after becoming very comfortable with the smaller caliber before moving up. However, every individual is different.
My brother is still uncomfortable with a .44 Spec., yet he has shot .38 Spec. bullseye competition for several years. Big guy, too.

Like I said, everyone is an individual. But it is easy to start small and work up.


July 29, 2008, 03:01 PM
If she's not looking to start a collection then a good 9mm like a Keltec PF9 or a 5 shot 38 special would be guns she could keep and shoot forever w/ a wide variety of affordable loads ... if she's not adverse to owning several, start w/ a 22 lr or have her rent some guns to determine her preference ... we really need more info, such as previous experience and anticipated use ie. strictly target or concealed carry ...

I do not know of any ranges local to me that rent, can anyone advise what that normally costs ?

July 29, 2008, 03:02 PM
How much experience does she have? If she's never handled or shot a gun identical to the one she plans on buying, she may be buying the wrong gun. If she can't handle the recoil or shoot the gun accurately, she will probably become discouraged or refuse to practice. Neither of those is a good outcome.

IMO, she needs to handle and shoot as many different handguns as possible before buying anything. If she can shoot the gun in question well, buy it. If not, find something else.

July 29, 2008, 03:15 PM
...Keltec PF9...

Remember that just because she can handle a large frame 9mm doesn't mean she can handle a smaller pocket gun.

I do not know of any ranges local to me that rent, can anyone advise what that normally costs ?

The range I go to is $5 to rent the gun but you have to shoot their ammo through it which is where it can get expensive.

July 29, 2008, 03:17 PM
try before you buy.

.22LR is cheap practice.

July 29, 2008, 03:18 PM

July 29, 2008, 04:36 PM
Start with a 22 and then find out if she will be a revolver or semi auto person. After determining this you can find out the largest caliber that she is able to handle properly.

July 29, 2008, 04:40 PM
I saw a handgun in 45-70govt. That might be a nice one to learn on :what:

Seriously, .22lr for a starter. If the starter has to do duty as a carry/defense gun, then a .380 is pretty mild in a big enough gun.

Try before you buy.

July 29, 2008, 05:02 PM
My wife was 120 lb and 5'7" and 27 years old when I started training her to shoot. I only had a 1911 and Smith 29 at the time. First time out, I taught her a two-hand hold and to hold firmly but let the pistol rise as it wanted to. She did fine.

She shot quite a bit of factory loads in each that first day, her conclusion was the .45 was "a toy gun." With both ear plugs and muffs, she was not intimidated with either but "her" guns are a snubby .38 and a Black Hawk .357. She's more than twice as old, twice as heavy and out of practice now but I would pity the fool who tried to harm her or anyone she loves.

Mostly, I think it's important to keep beginners from thinking any gun is going to break their hands or whack their foreheads. And proper noise abatement is important for anyone.

July 29, 2008, 05:43 PM
.22, 9MM auto, or .38 Spl revolver. ;)

But hey, I fell in love with the 1911 .45 the first time I shot it at 17 years old. It did not recoil bad then (and I was puny) and it still doesn't much, even with my old bones.

July 29, 2008, 06:02 PM
First one = .22lr no question about it......

July 29, 2008, 06:06 PM

Every pistol shooter needs at least one .22 to learn to shoot well.

And to fall back on later to break bad shooting habits that tend to creep in from time to time with the big, loud, kick'n blasters.

I have never seen anyone develop into a really fine pistol shot that started with a big center-fire gun.


Black Knight
July 29, 2008, 07:08 PM
A good 22 is a fine place to start. If she is going to use it for home defense, concealed carry as well as target practice a good K-frame (medium) sized 38 Special or 357 Magnum (loaded with 38 Special +P) is also hard to beat. The main thing is to go somewhere where she can try many different types, styles, and calibers. Let her choose the gun she wants. That way it is her gun not the gun you just happened to pick for her. My wife tried my 4" S&W 10, 2 1/2" S&W 66, 4" S&W 686, S&W 59, Beretta 92F,and Colt Series 70 MK IV 45ACP. She settled on the 66 as her home gun.

July 29, 2008, 07:14 PM
I was gonna say Winchester 458 magnum, but since the consensus seems to be .22, I'll defer to majority opinion.:D

July 29, 2008, 07:19 PM
Easy to master, economical and fun. Then move up to something a bit bigger.

July 29, 2008, 07:24 PM
My wife started with my Ruger Blackhawk in 357mag, but was shot 38 Spl's from it. When she was confortable with it, I started her on 357 Mag's. The shock was not so great. Now it is her Blackhawk.

Ala Dan
July 29, 2008, 07:38 PM

.38 Special
July 29, 2008, 07:51 PM
I'll slightly disagree with the .22 crowd, if only to keep it interesting.

If someone is interested only in a gun for self-defense, and that person has no intention of becoming an enthusiast, then a .357 revolver is a fine choice. This gun can be used to learn how to reliably hit a large, close target, first with .38s and later with .357s.

If, however, a person has even the slightest interest in taking up shooting as a hobby or sport, and/or has any desire to gain more skill than the "Hit the man target somewhere in the middle at 7 yards" level, then the .22 is the only game in town for a first gun.

Guns and more
July 29, 2008, 09:56 PM
I agree with the .22 also.
I have a few really nice guns and I'm considering a .22 now.
Ammo is cheap. Something like a Ruger MK-3 is affordable, and if she tires of it, someone will buy it. It would be fun to shoot a ton at the range.

July 29, 2008, 10:44 PM
I learned quite a bit about hunting, shooting and life and death with a Daisey BB gun. I probably shot a hundred lbs. of BB's before I ever touched a firearm. If she wants a 45 then by God she ought to buy one.

July 29, 2008, 11:22 PM
I also agree with the .22 if she really wants to learn how to shoot. I made the mistake of starting with a .40, and had my shots going low and left all the time. I've finally figured out how to hit the center of the target, but starting with a .22 would have helped with the learning curve.

July 30, 2008, 12:10 AM
try before you buy.

.22LR is cheap practice.That says it all perfectly!

July 30, 2008, 12:23 AM
Find out what fits first. I've taught folks to shoot with .22, 9mm and .45 and they've purchased 9mm and .45 as their first gun. If you follow Pax's guidance at corneredcat.com on fitting a gun to the individual the new shooter usually has far less trouble with recoil management and accuracy. If you don't fit the gun to the shooter they'll have trouble even with a .22.

The ideal? Find the type of gun that fits and the caliber they're comfortable shooting with and purchase a .22 conversion to go with it. Best of all worlds.

July 30, 2008, 01:04 AM
The ideal? Find the type of gun that fits and the caliber they're comfortable shooting with and purchase a .22 conversion to go with it. Best of all worlds.

Absolutely! I have a Ciener .22 unit for my .45 Commander and it is definitely the way to get familiar with trigger pull, sight picture, and grip without dealing with recoil all at the same time.

It's too bad it doesn't lock the slide back automatically on last round or the simulation would be complete. However, it does permit practicing locking the action open for inspection and "rolling chambered round into palm" drills, for those who routinely go from Condition 1 to Condition 3.

July 30, 2008, 05:18 AM
If your friend wants a handgun primarily for self-defense, and can only afford one gun at this time, then she should definitely pass on buying a .22. A quality .22 handgun costs several hundred dollars. She would also have to buy a holster, cleaning kit etc.

If she can only buy one gun, she should look at 9mm's, .40 cals and .45 ACP's. As other posters in this thread have already mentioned, she needs to find a range that rents guns, so she can rent and shoot several different models and calibers.

I recommend she give serious consideration to the Springfield Armory XD. Please share the following links with your friend:



July 30, 2008, 05:32 AM
I started off with a 9mm Taurus PT-99 AFS years ago. Despite what others may think about Taurus, it was a great pistol to shoot. Fast forward to the present, I still like 9mm but I sold the Taurus and have a Glock 19 and 26 to enjoy now. Add a Advantage Arms .22lr conversion kit, you'll have two inexpensive ammo calibers to enjoy. 9mm is also a good defensive round to use.

July 30, 2008, 07:20 AM
+1 HSO

If the your friend can't hold onto the pistol she's not going to feel comfortable shooting it no matter what caliber. So finding something that fits well and that she can reach the slide release and decocker, mag release etc... is the most important part of getting a pistol. Caliber likes/dislikes can come later as she samples various pistols. Renting them as said above is a good way to go.


July 30, 2008, 09:04 AM
If she plans on using the first gun as a self-defense tool, then I would go along with what she wants. Recoil isn't that bad. She may develop a flinch but that can be remedied with some training. Of course, ammo will be more expensive than, let's say, a 9mm and way more expensive than a .22.

If she's looking for a plinker, but still wants something decent for self-defense, then I'd push her towards a 9mm.

For strictly a range gun, I'd tell here to get a .22.

I would assume that she wants something for self-defense. Although it's never a bad idea to go try out some calibers first, I think that she could handle a .45.

July 30, 2008, 12:37 PM
IMO, if your friend has no or very little histiry with firearms, I would suggest .22 lr. Not only is it low cost, but the lack of recoil will help hone your friend's shooting technique as it will allow her to focus on aiming and hold and not have to give thought to recoil.

July 30, 2008, 03:23 PM
great advice has been given.

.22lr = cheap and easy to learn on.

Rent before you buy etc...

But since she will be a new shooter she will need to get practice. With practice comes a lot of shooting. So she will also need to look at ammo prices and factor that in.

She needs to look at a budget and see how much she can spend on a firearm and how much she can spend to shoot to get comfortable with it.

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